WPI Spotlight

Voters' Attitudes Toward Farmers and Farm Policy

"National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) recently released a poll on voters’ attitudes toward farmers and farm policy. It was conducted by Northstar Communications with 1,000 registered voters interviewed by telephone 3-7 April and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. Following are some key results:

Voters having a favorable impression of farmers.
  • Republicans: 88 percent favorable; 2 percent unfavorable
  • Democrats: 86 percent favorable; 2 percent unfavorable
  • Independents: 87 percent favorable; t2 percent unfavorable
  • All Voters: 86 percent favorable; 3 percent unfavorable

Voters believing that “a strong and thriving American farming industry is critical to American national security.”
  • Republicans: 82 percent agree; 15 percent disagree
  • Democrats: 78 percent agree; 17 percent disagree
  • Independents: 84 percent agree; 13 percent disagree
  • All Voters: 81 percent agree; 15 percent disagree

Voters’ views of “farmers receiving a discount on crop insurance that they purchase from a private company, which pays claims only in the event of bad weather or low prices.”
  • Republicans: 81 percent support; 15 percent oppose
  • Democrats: 75 percent support; 20 percent oppose
  • Independents: 82 percent support; 12 percent oppose
  • All Voters: 79 percent support; 17 percent oppose

Respondents were then asked which of the following two statements comes closer to their view:

Statement 1: Appropriate Support “Because of the unique importance of farming, it is appropriate for the federal government to offer financial assistance to farmers, particularly when it comes to protecting them from financial ruin. Natural disasters can strike at any time, and our nation’s food supply is too important to risk by letting farmers go bankrupt.”
Statement 2: No Special Treatment “Most of our nation’s food is grown by farming corporations that can easily afford to pay for their own crop insurance premiums without taxpayer money. It is the responsibility of any business to protect itself with insurance, and farmers should not get special treatment that the federal government simply cannot afford.”
  • Republicans: 58 percent responded Appropriate; 15 percent responded No Special Treatment
  • Democrats: 67 percent responded Appropriate; 25 percent responded No Special Treatment
  • Independents: 57 percent responded Appropriate; 15 percent responded No Special Treatment
  • All Voters: 60 percent responded Appropriate; 15 percent responded No Special Treatment

Finally, voters’ reaction to the following statement: “Farmers currently pay about forty percent of their crop insurance premiums. Do you think that percentage paid by farmers sounds too high, about right, or too low?”
  • Republicans: 25 percent too high; 37 percent about right; 25 percent too low
  • Democrats: 28 percent too high; 43 percent about right; 14 percent too low
  • Independents: 26 percent too high; 44 percent about right; 23 percent too low
  • All Voters: 26 percent too high; 42 percent about right; 20 percent too low

(This article was originally published in the 16 May 2016 issue of Ag Perspectives as part of a WPI analysis by Dave Juday. Click here to find out more about subscribing to Ag Perspectives.)

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